TIME LinkedIn

This New LinkedIn App Makes It Easier to Look Up Your Coworkers

Social Media Illustrations
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's not as creepy as it sounds

Lookup, a free app released by LinkedIn Wednesday, helps you find your coworkers and learn more about their background much more efficiently. A post on the company’s blog states that you can search for someone based on their name, title, experience, education, and skills.

Simply sign in with your company email address and you can search for and view any employee at your company that has a LinkedIn account, whether or not they have Lookup. It’s essentially a more easily searchable employee directory, listing all the basic information that is available on their LinkedIn profile plus their company email address and cellphone number if they choose to make those options available.

Prior to releasing the app, LinkedIn surveyed 814 North American professionals. It discovered that only 38% of them found their company’s intranet to be effective in helping them search for and learn about coworkers, and 58% of them said it would be more effective if they could search for someone based on specific skills.

This comes in handy for people working at large companies who are searching for someone with a specific skill set or background with which to collaborate.

Ankit Gupta, LinkedIn’s senior product manager, spoke to Business Insider about the company’s new app:

What we want to do is a very small but important thing — we want to help you find and learn about each other because we believe that will make you more productive.

TIME Food & Drink

Ben & Jerry’s Are Going to Make Non-Dairy Ice Cream Flavors

Ben & Jerry's brand ice cream sits in a supermarket freezer in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Ben & Jerry's brand ice cream sits in a supermarket freezer in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on July 2, 2014

Vegan and lactose-intolerant friends rejoice!

Ben & Jerry’s officially announced Tuesday that the firm is developing dairy-free ice cream flavors.

A statement on the brand’s website said they have been working on getting the flavors right for some time after being inundated with requests from the public.

The company said their flavor gurus “want to make sure these flavors live up to what Ben & Jerry’s is known for: enormous chunks, delicious swirls and a commitment to values-led ingredient sourcing.”

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield broke the news last week in an interview with U.K. newspaper the Metro. He said they would be using coconut milk or almond milk as the new non-diary base.

But fans will have to wait until spring next year for a taste of the mystery dairy-free flavors.

MONEY stocks

The Hidden Danger in Apple Stock

150409_INV_AppleDanger
China Stringer Network—Reuters

Apple's mountain of cash—which is generally considered a safety net—actually comes with risks.

Investing in Apple APPLE INC. AAPL 0.43% today seems like a smart bet by many measures.

The company broke records for the most profits for any business in a single quarter—ever—earlier this year. With nearly $180 billion in cash, management has plenty of cushion against setbacks—like, say, if the new Apple Watch doesn’t sell as well as projected. And while Apple has been criticized for not sharing that cash with shareholders as much as peers like Microsoft do, recent signals from company leaders suggest they may announce a hefty dividend hike as early as this month.

Certainly, there’s plenty of cause for investors to favor cash-rich companies like Apple, says Thomas McConville, co-portfolio manager of the Becker Value Equity fund, which holds Apple stock.

“A company having lots of cash is like a person having lots of savings,” McConville says. “If a person loses a job, savings help to weather the storm. Cash helps a company protect itself from shocks and keep investing in value-creating activities.”

But, he says, the devil is in the details of how exactly a company invests in activities—and whether those enterprises actually add value.

New projects and products can make or break a company, and it can be especially risky for a business to step out of its wheelhouse. Apple’s wheelhouse is making the best-looking and best-functioning advanced consumer tech products, says McConville.

That’s at least partly why some critics are skeptical about whether the rumored Apple car is the right new venture for the company.

“As an investor, I want to see that any product extension they announce fits under their umbrella,” McConville says. “If they get into vehicles, creating onboard technology and displays is a good fit, since visual appeal and functionality are top concerns. But if they were going to try to design seat brackets? Well, that’s probably not the perfect fit.”

That makes sense. Then again, traditional automakers already seem enthusiastic to team up with Apple—and with all that cash, the tech giant could easily just buy a company with more experience creating car parts like seat brackets. So what could go wrong?

Well, cash-rich companies have lots of buying power, says Don Wordell, portfolio manager of the RidgeWorth Mid Cap Value fund. And, as the saying goes, with power comes responsibility.

“Companies that are simply too big to grow organically can grow inorganically by buying others,” he says. “But that creates risk. Cash can be as much of a liability as an asset.”

So, for example, it worked out well when Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion nine years ago. That acquisition led to a spate of successful movies, a stronger brand, and happy investors who have seen total returns of more than 300% since 2006.

But when Quaker bought Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994, it bungled the brand’s marketing campaigns and relationships with distributors; after just 27 months, Quaker sold Snapple to a holding company for about $300 million—less than a fifth of its purchase price. The whole affair left Quaker with a damaged credit rating and dragged its stock price flat during a period when the rest of the market was on fire.

Hindsight is, of course, 20/20. But a key quality investors should watch for is how patient and thoughtful a company’s leaders seem to be before deploying resources.

“Too much cash can burn a hole in management’s pocket and cause them to make a bad acquisition,” says McConville.

Apple’s record of acquisitions and product launches is not without flops. Among other failed products, there was Apple’s 2007 Bluetooth headset, which was discontinued after two years because it couldn’t compete with third-party devices. And although the company has invested millions over the years in acquiring mapping companies, like Placebase and Poly 9, Apple has still not succeeded in creating a mapping application that competes with the likes of Google Maps.

Of course, Apple’s top executives have made plenty of successful moves on behalf of the company in recent years, and sales of core products like the iPhone are still breaking records. But strong is not invincible, and if its new wristwatch doesn’t take off, Apple will soon be looking to throw cash at developing its next big product.

Investors would be wise to keep an eye on how, exactly, that cash is spent.

 

MONEY workplace etiquette

The Phrase You Should Never Use In Your Office Voicemail Message

office phone
Johnny Greig—Alamy

"Not available" conveys to the caller that you're not interested in their business. Here's what to say instead.

How many times a day when you make a phone call do you get someone’s voicemail and hear, “I’m not available?”

What exactly does that mean?

The person could be powdering their nose for two minutes, gone to a client meeting for two hours, on maternity leave for six months—or, have been transferred to the mailroom in Beijing! You have no idea.

You had phoned for a reason: to get information, to place an order, to extend an invitation to meet, to do business. But now you hang up in disgust, your mission thwarted.

Now you have to invest time figuring out your next, hopefully productive, step. Do you check the web for their corporate number, another branch number, or simply find another “source” altogether, giving your business to a competitor? Perhaps with your time constraint you are forced to simply table your project.

If this were your business, you’d have just lost a customer.

Now it’s time to check your own voicemail.

With all of the competition out there and access to information at one’s fingertips on the web, people have untold choices when they need a real estate attorney, a construction engineer, an investment advisor, a party planner, a temp agency… or whatever it is you do.

If you want to build your business, you need to build relationships, and this requires showing respect for your caller’s time and energy.

“Not available” is simply dismissive. It communicates to the person that their need is not that important to you.

And it either causes your potential customer to hang up, or to get stuck going through an obstacle course in which they get the main switchboard and are given the third degree: “What’s your name? What’s your affiliation? Why are you calling? Whom do you want to speak with?

The alternative is simple: Provide in your voice message a phone number and refer the caller to an assistant, a colleague, a cell number—any way of expediting their quest. Help your caller to reach someone who can, in your absence, be helpful and succeed in keeping the business.

And remember to update your voicemail message when appropriate. Recently I called an office and heard: “I’ll be back February 1st.” It happened to be March 17th!

Investing a mere 60 seconds can keep a client and their business while enhancing your reputation.

Arlene B. Isaacs is an executive coach in New York City.

TIME Companies

Comcast Calls Customer a ‘Super B*tch’ on Her Bill

Just a month after they called another customer 'A**hole Brown'

The ladies and gentlemen at Comcast are at it again: this time, they named an Illinois customer “Super B*tch” and addressed her bill to that nickname.

Mary Bauer, 63, told WGN Chicago that after consistent faulty service from Comcast that required 39 technician visits, she received a bill addressed to “Super B*tch Bauer” instead of her given name. “This is a disgrace to me,” Bauer told WGN. Why are they doing this to me? I pay my bills. I do not deserve this.”

The PR gaffe comes just a month after a different Comcast Customer Service representative changed Ricardo Brown’s name to “Asshole Brown” on his bill.

Comcast has said they are actively investigating both incidents.

[WGN]

TIME Gaming

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Plans to Cut Up to 130 Jobs

The Toy Fair
Tim Whitby—Getty Images Angry Birds plush toys on display at the Toy Fair 2011 at Olympia Exhibition Centre on Jan. 25, 2011 in London, England.

This represents 16% of the Finnish company's workforce

Rovio Entertainment, the company that brought Angry Birds to smartphones, toy stores and theme parks, said on Thursday it plans to cut up to 130 employees, or 16% of its workforce, “towards a simplified organization.”

Cue puns of the Finnish gaming company’s clipped wings and prematurely counted chickens.

Rovio announced in March that its 2013 net profit dropped by 50% from the prior year and, in August, the company replaced its chief executive.

“We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized,” Rovio said in a statement Thursday. But, maintaining a light tone, Rovio added, “as we consider these painful measures, we keep our eye on always delighting our fans with products they love.”

TIME Smartphones

Some iPhone 6 Plus Owners Claim It’s Bending in Their Pockets

One design feature you didn't ask for

Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has an awesome new design feature fanboys can’t get enough of: Some owners of the 6.2-inch-tall device are complaining their brand new phones are bending when they’re put in smaller pockets, MacRumors reports.

And in the video above, one YouTube user is seen bending the iPhone 6 Plus with his bare hands. However, to be fair, this isn’t the first smartphone to experience posture issues: The pocket-curving phenomenon has been discussed by Android users, too. And some Apple users have also posted photos of curved iPhone 5s units:

What does this mean for the future of iPhones? As HuffPost’s Kim Bhasin says, maybe this will spark a cargo pant renaissance.

MONEY Careers

Making a Friend in HR Can Help Your Career

Human resources office door
Image Source—Getty Images The person behind this door can give you some valuable insights related to your career.

A well-placed mole can tell you when key decisions are made, how to ask your boss for a raise, and more, says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

If you don’t have friends who work in human resources, you might have a very narrow view of what happens there: It’s the place to go during benefits selection time; it’s the place where people get fired; it’s a mouthpiece for the company.

Like most people, you probably only contact HR is when you have a problem.

But as someone who has worked in the field for more than 20 years—both inside companies and outside as a consultant—I can tell you that getting to know the people who work in your human resources department can be very valuable. HR professionals work on career-related issues every single day. And you can take advantage of that expertise to better manage your own career.

Don’t yet know anyone in HR well enough to ply them for insights? Invest some time to build a connection: Invite someone to lunch whom you’ve worked with on matters related to work—say, filling an open position or promoting a star. Also, look at your LinkedIn and Facebook connections to see if you know someone in HR even if not in your own company; they can still be helpful to you. And the next time you’re contacted by a recruiter, return the call and suggest meeting up.

Once you’ve got your lunch planned, here are five areas you might want to talk to your HR buddy about:

1. What the straight story is on company benefits

Better than a hotline, your friend in HR can translate the doublespeak from the benefits guide into information you can use. Your friend might not know every nook and cranny of the guide, but if you have a specific interest (say, elder care issues), he or she can probably point you to the expert on her team who knows this well. Medical benefits is definitely a company perk you want to understand well.

But you might also ask if there are other benefits you’re entitled to that you are likely overlooking. There may be training and development opportunities, or even discounts to local attractions or consumer services (e.g., cell phone plans) that your company offers its employees. Your friend in HR knows about these because it’s part of his or her day-to-day.

2. How the decisions that affect your pay are made

What data is used to establish pay ranges? When are raises and bonuses decided? Are promotions granted at specific times only? Does every department do performance reviews at the same time, in the same way?

If you want to keep your career moving on an upward trajectory, you need to know how decisions are made around raises, bonuses, and promotions. This includes when decisions are made (if it’s once a year, start planning now so you don’t miss the next cycle), who decides (it’s not just your boss) and how your group compares with others (maybe you’re in a department with little upward movement and need to switch).

You can’t ask your boss or immediate colleagues for this information without revealing your intentions, and they may not know the whole story. Someone in HR, however, deals with these issues frequently, and across different areas of the company.

3. When exceptions are made to the rules

In addition to knowing how the processes typically work, your friend in HR probably also knows about any exceptions to the rule.

Any decent professional keeps confidentiality, and HR issues are absolutely confidential. However, your friend in HR can let you know if exceptions have occurred and how likely they are.

For example, you could find out if bonuses really are paid out only at year-end. Your HR friend may not be able to reveal who got the special spot bonus or how much it was, but might say, “I’ve seen it happen from time to time” or “I did hear of one case when…” And if you’re working on an extra assignment and feeling undervalued, your pal may suggest you lobby your boss for special consideration. At least you know an exception is possible, and it’s on you to press on for what you want.

4. How things compare between your company and others

Are you fairly paid? Is every company in this industry restructuring so frequently? Are work-at-home opportunities just not available in your line of work?

Your friend in HR doesn’t just look at career-related trends inside your company. He or she also needs to have a sense for what other companies are doing to ensure your firm stays competitive. Use that competitor knowledge as a shortcut for your own research.

5. How to approach your boss with requests

Now that you have all this useful knowledge about what benefits you might select, how decisions are made, possible exceptions that could apply to your situation and what competitors are offering, you may want to ask your boss for something—access to that special training conference, a promotion, a special bonus. But you don’t want your meeting with your boss to be the first time you practice this ask.

It is incredibly helpful to role play what that negotiation will look like with someone other than your boss who is experienced in career negotiations. This is another perk of having a friend in HR. He or she has sat through offer negotiations, performance reviews, and other career discussions much more frequently than you (and maybe even your boss). He or she can pepper you with questions you can practice in advance, or give you tips on what works and what doesn’t.

__________

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

10 Easy Ways to Make Yourself More Hireable

Your Career is Your Biggest Asset. 5 Ways to Protect it

New Degree, No Job? 4 Steps Grads Should Take to Jumpstart the Search

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